Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley Trail

HARD 471 reviews
#5 of 174 trails in

Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley Trail is a 10.9 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from June until August. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.9 km Elevation Gain: 792 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

scramble

snow

hiking
1 minute ago

11 switch backs to get to split for larch valley. Beautiful view of the 10 peaks. Then 6 more switch backs to sentinel pass. Cold and windy at the top but worth the views!

hiking
7 hours ago

Parking at Moraine Lake is limited, but you should be able to get a spot if you arrive at least an hour before sunrise. The sunrise at Moraine Lake is incredible to see! We enjoyed this hike a lot!

hiking
off trail
rocky
22 hours ago

Who wants to make this way, must be there early. The first day we were too late, and the road there already closed. There are then bus transfers, but the waiting time is certainly 1.5-2 hours. So the whole thing again the next day, we were already at 7.30 am at the parking lot, and also found a free space. (however it rained and was pretty cold). The way is nice to go, we have also made the last part of the route, the view is worthwhile. Definitely warm clothes, we only had about 4 degrees ...

One of our most beautiful hikes in Banff! Three very different parts with incredible views and places. Even without making the last pass of the pass the rest is definitely worth it - the arrival at the lake with the meadow is really superb!

hiking
3 days ago

really awesome hike, switch backs most of the way but takes you to amazing views. parking is really difficult got there at 5.30am and had to park a mile away from moraine lake.

hiking
3 days ago

Hiked only about the 1st half form Moraine Lake to the meadows. Starts with bridges and waterfalls, then breathtaking lake views, then switchbacks before you reach the spectacular open meadow. Good variety of wildflowers. For a couple in our mid 50s, average condition, this was a challenging but satisfying hike. The challenge for me was mostly that it is all incline, then all descent. I was feeling it in my legs the next day!

hiking
8 days ago

Not to be missed! This is the best trail we did all week. Breathtaking! The biggest obstacle is parking. We arrived on a Wednesday morning (not a busy weekend day) at 5:15 am and we were VERY LUCKY to get one of the last parking spots. We got up at 4am in order to get there so early. Many people are just at Moraine Lake to watch the sunrise (which is AMAZING, please try) so if you don’t get a spot early you can vulture around until people leave after sunrise (6:30-7:30am). They shut down the road to Moraine Lake when the lot is full but if you circle back a few times they may open it up, you could get lucky. Wear layers if you do early. In the morning I had hat and mittens and 4 shirts, it was freezing. By the time we finished I was down to just 2 shirts haha. Bring bear spray. We didn’t see any bears, just a woodchuck, but we heard lots of reports of bear sightings here. We did not use bug spray, didn’t seem to need it, even though it rained the day before. The climb up Sentinel Pass looks hard but it’s not that bad and it’s SO worth it!! This hike was the highlight of our trip. Love love love!

hiking
8 days ago

Great trail! The difficult part is only the last km or so. That's where all the tough elevation gain happens. You will be rewarded with amazing views! Before that it was easy/moderate. We went on a VERY foggy day but thank goodness it started clearing up when we reached the top. We didn't want to get up at 4am... So we took the shuttle. The total cost of shuttle is $10 - $4 from overflow to Lake Louise, then $6 from Lake Louise to Lake Moraine. There is a direct shuttle back from Lake Moraine to the overflow parking lot.

hiking
10 days ago

Left the TH at 530. Plenty of parking on a Friday. We tried to summit Temple, too much snow and no crampons. Great views from the pass.

hiking
10 days ago

Highly recommend this hike! Stunning view in the valley of the ten peaks. The main inconvenient is finding a parking spot at Lake Moraine as it fills up quite fast for the sunset. Past 10:00, finding a parking spot becomes easier.

hiking
10 days ago

This was a very rewarding hike. It starts in the woods and makes its way through a few prairies. The end has an optional summit, which I really recommend. The views were incredible. This trail is well maintained but a bit difficult due to the steady climb. One of our favorites in the area. Tip: The hike starts at the shore of Lake Moraine and parking can be a mess. People tend to go to the lake to watch the sunrise and the lot is often filled by 6:00am. We went around 9:30am and the morning crowd was leaving. We got in with no problem.

hiking
11 days ago

A lot of switchbacks up through the woods, then amazing views from the top. Well worth the climb. I'd do it again. One thing to note is you may be required to hike with a group of 5 because of the bears. I hiked this trail with my dad, so we had to wait for more people. That was a bit of a bummer.

hiking
13 days ago

Finished Aug 4. Views are amazing. Trail consists of three parts, forest with switchbacks, alpine meadow with flowers/ponds and rock switchbacks. second and third parts beautiful. All trail is constant moderate incline. To get to awesome views its enough to get to 60% of the trail, but very end offers much more. Took us 2h up and 1.5h down with stops, time on top and some rest. We are experienced but didn't rush it. No big mammals on a trail. Getting to Moraine lake is hard (6.40am road was already closed, had to take shuttle), but other than this everything else is perfect. Didn't meet any big mammals.

hiking
bugs
14 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

Several stunners on this one starting with Moraine (my fav of the Banff lakes). The first half climb is a steady dose of switchbacks behind tree cover (small shame there's not a better view of Moraine's blue from above). From here it levels out into open fields with a gorgeous view of the mountains. Finally round the bend into the bowl and amp yourself up for the haul up the wide switchbacks to the pass. I had to pause at the end of each switchback but the top of the pass is a jawdropper. Be sure to bring an extra layer - the pass was dark, windy, and cold. As for heights, the bowl is steep but not sheer. Keep your eyes on the path and no problem...Friday 4:15am arrival to get a spot, by 5am lot appeared full...bucket list sunrise on the lake...1hr45 min up, 1hr flying down to meet my sister for the 9am canoe opening (highly rec this over louise if you need a canoe pic but aren't tied to louise. Much easier to get a canoe and, also, it's Moraine Lake!!!)

hiking
14 days ago

Easy for the athletic, but very difficult for the average hiker, like me. A very steep switch-back that seems to never end at the beginning for nearly 40 minutes. Continuous uphill with no break, my heart-rate monitor peaked at 178 bpm! Thankfully, the trail breaks into a beautiful valley that clears into a pretty flat stretch for 20 minutes ending with a lake in the majestic backdrop of glacier mountains. The last stretch of switch-back was slightly easier, but can be dangerous in a few turns, but luckily it was really sunny, and the trail was cleared of snow. No poles needed. At the top is a ridge that sits between two systems of rolling mountains, almost two very differentiate views of the rockies. Definitely worth the hard work. We made it up to the top in 1hr45 minutes, with my husband dragging and pushing me as the last bus leaves Morraine Lake at 5:20pm. It is possible to do the full loop in 3hrs, but 4hr is much more comfortable. Attempted to get up there last weekend July 28th, and didn't make it because the shuttle to Morraine Lake sells fast. We left Calgary at 8am, and could only catch the shuttle for 3:30pm. Attempted today, left Calgary at 7am, and we made it!

hiking
15 days ago

Rather a moderate trail for the Canadian Rockies, three hour round trip. Arrived at the car park for 5am and got one of the last parks. A great maintained trail to get up close and personal with the famous ten peaks and a great view of the glacier that feeds Moraine! Standard forest switchbacks for the first half then a nice flat walk to the pass area, then you spot the switchbacks you will then need to walk up (why does no one post photos of this part!?). View from the top is quite similar to the pass. Nice hike overall.

Beautiful trail. I wouldn't rate it as hard, rather moderate. Highly trafficked, but it didn't bother us. Didn't meet any bear. Used about 4.5 hrs with plenty of picture stops and clothes change stops. It is very windy last km to the top.

hiking
scramble
16 days ago

View was incredible from the top. Start early and enjoy lunch up top. Scramble wasn’t too terrible, just go slow. Most of the snow is gone, so the path is dry.

hiking
17 days ago

Tough, but beautiful trail. The final stretch after the lake is pretty strenuous, but the view is worth it.

hiking
19 days ago

Very well maintained and the views are stunning!

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful hike that begins with switchbacks along Moraine Lake offering the opportunity to peek through the trees for a glimpse at the lake and surrounding mountains. About halfway up, the trail opens into a meadow and proceeds to become a valley with amazing views. The final push to the summit is a half mile of challenging scramble and switchbacks, which took us about 30 minutes to complete. Crazy there’s still snow along the trail and it’s nearly August! All in all, it was approximately 2 hours to ascend and 1.5 hours coming down (with breaks built in - not including lunch). The trail was heavily trafficked, so I would recommend leaving early to beat most of the crowd (by 7:30am).

hiking
snow
20 days ago

This was a great hike. The views are so worth the heart pounding switchbacks. The valley is a serene interlude before you clear the tree line and the snowpack. A beautiful lake view with the most amusing critters all around. Snow on higher trails. With poles it was easier up and down. I understand this trail is also beautiful in the fall. I’m from southern Texas and I would love to see the fall colors up here. Safe hiking to you all.

Got to the parking lot early - 5:15am after receiving some advice to do so - and it was full by 5:30. We figured out later, the parking lot does clear a bit later on, because a lot of traffic is simply from sunrise watchers as opposed to hikers. Regardless, we were happy to have a parking spot. Started with headlamps but could have gotten away without them as it was brightening pretty fast. Wind was whipping off the lake and was an indicator of later pass/valley weather to come. Passed many people on the way down who were miserable and freezing. Some in shorts, others with a light jacket or no jacket. I estimate with the wind gusts this morning, it was near freezing or just a bit more. Luckily I had a heavy fleece, and a puffy coat and beanie, but left my wet gloves in the car from a previous hike - thankfully, I always carry handwarmers in my emergency pack and so busted those out. Lifesaver! It was THAT cold! As I walked around the lake later, I passed two kids (maybe 3 years old) and both looked miserable so passed off a hand warmer to each. Parents were beyond thankful! Bottom line - prepare for weather in the mountains! Pass was beautiful as was the valley!

hiking
26 days ago

We got to the parking lot at 05.30 and it was already full. Had to park up the road about 2,5km from the lake. Went up to Larch Valley which has beautiful views. There is no lake view up there which we first thought but the view of the mountains are great. We turned back down at the valley.

hiking
muddy
snow
30 days ago

hiking
muddy
scramble
snow
1 month ago

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